Sydney’s Quirkiest Cinemas: Memorable Experiences at the Movies

Cinefiles are in for a treat when visiting our unique picture palaces.

Love catching the latest flicks? Or want to get nostalgic with your favourite classics? Cinefiles are in for a treat when visiting these unique picture palaces.

Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace

This suburban gem in Sydney’s cinema landscape has lit up Cremorne for eight decades. Painstakingly restored in the 1980s to its original art deco grandeur, it now offers the latest blockbusters, indies, classics and retro double-bills. For a sweet deal, every Wednesday you can grab a ‘light lunch, coffee and select movie’ and it will only set you back $13. Adding to the quirky factor, it’s also home to the Wurlitzer Pipe Organ, which belts out tunes before special screenings. (380 Military Road, Cremorne, 02.9908.4344)

State Theatre

Some of the biggest names in Hollywood have attended glamorous movie premieres here, including Angelina Jolie, Russell Crowe, Robert Pattinson and Cate Blanchett. Smack bang in the heart of the CBD, this stunning 86-year-old theatre often rolls out the red carpet for major events – particularly during Sydney Film Festival in June. Once inside, just make sure you tear your eyes away from the screen long enough to gaze up at the ceiling, where the second largest cut crystal chandelier in the world hangs. (49 Market St., Sydney, 02.9373.6655)

Golden Age Cinema & Bar

Charlie Chaplin, "Casablanca" ... yes, they are classic cinema references, but they’re also some of the cheeky names of movie-inspired cocktails at this inner-Sydney bar and cinema. Oozing sultry sophistication, this intimate 56-seat cinema is in the former screening room of heritage-listed Paramount Pictures building and shows everything from new releases and indies to cult faves. Every Sunday afternoon classics such as "Breakfast at Tiffany’s" take centre stage, while Tuesday night is reserved for the ever-popular Golden Age Prices screenings, where tickets for films such as "Ghostbusters" cost the same as the year when the movie was first released. (80 Commonwealth St., Surry Hills, 02.9211.1556)

Dendy Opera Quays

Surely the cinema with the best view in the house, this is in prime real estate on the promenade between Circular Quay and the Opera House, overlooking the harbour. New flicks are offered alongside more arthouse fare, including screenings of the MET Opera performances. Step back in time on Mondays at 10 am and 6.30 pm with classic films for $10, or at the same time, catch cult classics for $12 at sister cinema Dendy Newtown. (2 E. Circular Quay, Sydney, 02.9247.3800)

Randwick Ritz

Heritage-listed, Art Deco, family-owned—this Eastern suburbs cinema is something of an institution, having been there since 1937. It shows new releases in addition to special events, including post-screening Q&As and broadcasts from the Royal National Theatre in London. With The Ritz Bar upstairs, you can take a cheeky drink in with you, or meet up for a pre- or post-film bevvy. (45 St. Pauls Str., Randwick, 02.8324.2500)

Palace Verona

Nestled amongst the boutiques of Oxford Street, this picturehouse boasts the best of international cinema, whether that’s the latest Coen Brothers flick, art-house movie, documentary or indie. Popcorn is fancy (cooked in olive oil), choc tops are handmade and there’s also a wine and espresso bar perfect for post-movie banter as you digest that latest flick. (17 Oxford St., Paddington, 03.9817.6421)

Skyline Drive-in

It’s "Happy Days" in more ways than one at Sydney’s only remaining drive-in, which had an American 50s-style renovation. Pricing is done the old-school way – $10 per person travelling in the car. The flashbacks don’t stop there. You’ll feel like you’re in "Back to the Future" at the drive-in’s diner, with a retro-inspired menu, including chilli dogs, hot dogs, burgers, malt shakes and spiders. Munch on the lot in the diner’s booths, in your car or in one of the Grass Class deck chairs. (Cricketers Arms Road, Blacktown, 02.9622.4170)

Caris Bizzaca
About the author